Peer Review

Gurnet Point-backed Auregen taps Amgen vet to lead; Ex-Roche RNA chief takes CEO post at Genevant

Gurnet Point Capital-backed Auregen BioTherapeutics has tapped Amgen vet Richard Davies to lead its rare disease cell therapy’s entry into the clinic as CEO. Davies, a former Hospira chief commercial officer who had his first chief executive experience recently at Bonesupport, will lead the drive in translating the Geneva-based biotech’s 3D biofabrication technologies to new therapeutics, starting from a program in rare congenital craniofacial disorders.

→ Brickell Biotech has hired industry veteran and Lilly $LLY Chief Marketing Officer Robert Brown to take the reins at the dermatology company as it preps a late-stage trial evaluating its drug, sofpironium bromide, in patients with excessive underarm sweating in the first half of 2019. Brown, who has spent over three decades at Lilly, is set to replace Brickell’s current CEO and co-founder Reginald Hardy on January 1.

Bo Rode Hansen is stepping up from a CSO position to take the top job at Genevant. Unlike the rest of Vivek Ramaswamy’s biotech family, the company is not in-licensing late-stage programs, but building a pipeline from scratch using Arbutus’ RNA tech, with the aim of delivering more than five in-house and partnered candidates for clinical development by 2020. Hansen, the former global head of RNA at Roche with 50 discovery programs under his belt, will play a leading role alongside a seasoned exec team.

→ A year after Mary Szela left the helm of Novelion Therapeutics $NVLN, the rare disease biotech is shaking up its CEO office again. Jeffrey Hackman, the former COO who’s been filling in, has resigned as interim CEO, passing the responsibilities to general counsel Benjamin Harshbarger. Having helped secure a recent loan facility, Harshbarger is charged with the grand turnaround mission by first fixing the capital structure.

→ Almost a year after stepping down from Synergy Pharmaceuticals — a company he founded and co-invented the lead drug for — Gary Jacob has landed at a microbiome biotech in Australia. As CEO, Jacob is expected to channel both his development, financial and commercial expertise in steering Immuron’s $IMRN pipeline of orally delivered polyclonal antibodies, which is led by a program for liver diseases.

→ Following a wide-ranging career featuring stints at Novartis, L’Oreal and SBM Management Services, Stephan Jackman has been appointed CEO of Alzamend Neuro, a biotech developing a couple of Alzheimer’s drug candidates out of the University of South Florida. Prior to the new role, Jackman was focused on advancing cures for mosquito borne infectious diseases as COO of Ennaid Therapeutics.

→ Newly public Magenta Therapeutics $MGTA has scooped Jason Ryan from Foundation Medicine to be its chief operating and financial officer. The high flying Cambridge startup, which has a portfolio focused on bone marrow transplant, can benefit from Ryan’s experience in capital creation and allocation as well as commercial planning, says CEO Jason Gardner, as demonstrated in his efforts with Foundation’s recent sale to Roche.  

→ Gothenburg, Sweden-based Isofol has hired Roger Tell — a biopharma vet who’s also run multiple trials as a principal investigator — to run its clinical program as it advances its lead product candidate into Phase III. Arfolitixorin, developed through a partnership with Merck KGaA, is designed to boost the effects of chemotherapy mainly in colorectal cancer. As CSO and SVP of clinical development, Tell will also oversee  scientific research and technical operations.

→ With its Phase III programs well underway, Apellis Pharmaceuticals $APLS has tapped Adam Townsend to plot a marketing plan for APL-2 — its complement C3 inhibitor looking to rival Soliris in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria — and also build a franchise in geographic atrophy, an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration. The new chief commercial joins from Biogen, where he helped lead the launches of Tecfidera and Spinraza.

→ Following an 11-year career running clinical operations for multiple units — including the ophthalmic franchise — at Novartis, Fabio Baschiera is jumping to an ophthalmology startup backed by the pharma giant. His new title at Oculis will be VP of clinical development. Also joining the Swiss biotech: Louie-Anne Gauthier, who will now scout deals for Oculis’ eye drop alternatives for injectable drugs as its VP of strategic marketing, business development and licensing.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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